Holiday Storage Guide

by Gary Key on December 19, 2008 12:00 PM EST

Mid-Range Performance Drives-


Once again we will turn to Western Digital for their impressive Caviar Black (WD1001FALS) 1TB drive that features excellent performance along with very good acoustics and power consumption in this market sector. This $129 drive also features a 32MB cache, 334GB platters, and five year warranty. For those users wanting a very low power consumption drive, excellent acoustics, and solid performance, we highly suggest the WD Caviar Green 1TB drive (WD10EADS). This update to the GP series now features 32MB cache, 334GB platter sizes, idle power consumption around 2.8W with a load power rating at 5.5W in our testing. It is also quiet with a 23.6dBA rating.

Our other choice (maybe primary shortly) is the new Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS) 1TB drive featuring the same 375GB per-platter technology from their up market 1.5TB drive. This $110 drive has been every bit the equal of the WD Caviar Black in early application and thermal/acoustic testing. It has already impressed us enough for a very strong recommendation.

We have been bitten by a couple of failures in the labs with the Samsung SpinPoint T and F1 series of drives, but we still have several running perfectly fine. It could be bad luck or just luck of the draw. If that is the case, we still think the Samsung SpinPoint F1 (HD753LJ) 750GB drive at $75 is very good deal for a top performing drive.

High-Performance Desktop Drives-


There really is only once choice here in the HDD desktop market. That being the WD VelociRaptor 300GB (WD3000GLFS) drive featuring 10K RPM platters, 32MB Cache, incredible performance, and very good acoustics and thermals for a drive in this category. Without moving to high end SSD or SAS drives, this is the drive to have on the desktop if performance is paramount and storage capacities be dammed.

Optical Storage –

The optical storage market has consolidated greatly in the last year with top-tier suppliers like Plextor and BenQ basically opting out of the market and other manufacturers merging together. The SATA interface has finally replaced the IDE interface on the desktop. Features that we have always considered important like bitsetting, overburn, disc scanning, fast reads, and high-quality writing tend to be worse now than they were a couple of years ago. We guess price and marketing features have overtaken performance and quality in some regards now. That said, there are some decent drives available and we basically have narrowed our choices down to a couple that will suffice for most users and a Blu-ray playback unit.


DVD Writers

Our two choices are both 22x SATA units that feature street prices around $25. We like the Samsung SH-S223F and LG GH22NS30 drives for general desktop usage. Both offer very good compatibility with a wide range of discs and above average performance across the board. We just received the Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7220S drive and in the first round of testing, it appears to be a good drive and would certainly deserve a look before purchasing either one of the other drives. We still favor the Pioneer DVR-116DBK considering its $22 price tag and overall performance.

Blu-ray Playback Drive


If you are building an HTPC then we highly suggest the $99~$119 LG GGC-H20LK drive for playback duties and general DVD burning activities. If you are looking for a good Blu-ray burner, we once again turn to LG for their GGW-H20LK unit. Sony just introduced their BWU-300S Blu-ray burning with the capability to write at up to 8x speeds on certain BD-R DL discs. The drive currently goes for about $399.

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  • Roland00Address - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Right now I can't afford a SSD, but with people considering i7 it would be nice to know which SSD are great and which ones to avoid due to some of them have that defective controller chip (JMicron controller). A good SSD really boosts performance, cutting application load times in about half in comparison to a velicorapter, and while barely influencing the average frame rate of a game it does help tremendously with the minimum frame rate. As you said earlier refering to Intel X25 "To me this is bigger than Nehalem."

    Then again flash memory prices have been dropping faster than moore's law due to the bad economny.
    Reply
  • barrychuck - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    Newegg has your choice of rebranded 32 gb SLC Samsung SSD drives for the price of a velociraptor. A pair of Samsungs beats a pair of velicraptors easily in everything but space. I Vlited my vista ultimate to 4 GB easily by only removing the language packs. All my games and apps loaded easily into the 64 GB raid with 32 GB free. Today there is no more reason to not go SSD. At $260 a pop for 32gb or the A data 64 gb for $506. Unless your buying for a laptop with no raid capability, buy a matched pair. It will be the best $500 you spend this season. Nothing else can make this kind of improvement. Benchmarks do not even show what the true capability is. Reply
  • bob4432 - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    i just picked up a ocz v2 30GB ssd and w/ the tweaks they recommend, you really don't notice stutter. i don't know how much of an improvement these tweaks did because i did them before i even installed the ssd, but picking up one of these when on special and doing the tweaks makes for a very good experience, and i am comparing it to my years of running many new to 1 gen old 15k u320 scsi drives.... Reply

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